Study 3 WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE ALONE!
PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Ephesians 2:1-10. Key verse: 2 Timothy 1:9
Concentrated in 2 Timothy 1:9 is the truth that is constantly repeated in the Bible, that we are saved by grace alone. Salvation from start to finish is altogether the work of God, and man can add nothing to it. It is “not of works” – look up Ephesians 2:8-10; for God’s salvation is freely given “to the man who does not work” – look up Romans 4:5, and compare Titus 3:5. Man says that we must work in order to be saved, but this is unscriptural and untrue. God’s salvation is all of grace, which means that it is not of works. This truth is very simply declared in the verse before us. What is the first thing we are told?
1. GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF OUR SALVATION
The verse begins with the words, “God, who has saved us…” Are we saved? Then God has done it. Here is the truth Jonah declared when he was inside the whale (Jonah 2:9). When we turn to other scriptures for an exposition of this truth that “God…has saved us”, we learn that God the Father planned our salvation (John 3:16); God the Son purchased our salvation (1 Timothy 1:15); and God the Holy Spirit perfects this salvation in the heart of the sinner who is saved by grace – look up Romans 8:15-16. Man’s efforts are excluded altogether. Now notice how the verse goes on:-
2. BELIEVERS ARE ALREADY SAVED HERE AND NOW
Our salvation is already accomplished, for “God has saved us…” – He has already done it! This simple statement that “God has saved us” tells us that every believer may have assurance concerning his salvation. It is alarming to discover how many Christians lack the assurance of salvation. They ‘hope’ they are saved, but they are not sure. Why do they lack assurance? The reason in most cases is because of a defective view of salvation. Once we see that salvation is all of grace and the work of God, we soon enter into the joy of full assurance – look up 1 John 5:13. Now notice the next important phase of truth:-
3. GOD SAVED US BEFORE HE CALLED US
That is how the verse reads – “Who has saved us, and called us…” In the purpose of God we were saved before we ever knew about it, so how could we have contributed to our salvation? We were saved when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31); when we came to Him (John 6:37); and when we welcomed Him (Revelation 3:20); but in the plan and purpose of God we were saved in eternity past – look up and compare Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. Now notice the next thing:-
4. WE ARE SAVED TO BE HOLY, AND NOT BECAUSE WE ARE HOLY
Our verse reads, “Who has saved us and called us to a holy life.” There was not a spark of goodness in us when the Lord saved us. He did not save us because there was anything good in us. He saved us when we were sinners, and His purpose in saving us was in order that we might be holy, and any holiness we shall ever know will be given us by God’s grace. Do not think that the Lord saved you because of any of your own merit. He saved you that you might become holy – compare 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 7, and 1 Peter 1:15-16. The apostle then goes on to say:-
5. OUR SALVATION HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH WORKS
We are saved, “not because of anything we have done…” What a contrast between the truth of this verse and much preaching today! So many say, “Do your best, and God will save you.” But this is not the Gospel. It is not even good advice, because it is not true. The Gospel is this – “You are a lost, guilty and Hell-deserving sinner. You deserve nothing from God but His displeasure. The best there is about you is filthy in His sight. You have no rights at all, except to be cast into Hell. But God, in His sovereign love has reached down and saved you, and He has done this through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.” God has excluded our works from every tense of salvation – past, present and future. We are not saved from the penalty of sin by our own works, nor are we saved from the power of sin by our own works, nor shall we be saved from the very presence of sin by our own works. Justification, sanctification, glorification – are all of God (Romans 8:30). Now, why does God save us?
6. GOD SAVES US BECAUSE OF HIS OWN PURPOSE
We are saved through believing on the Saviour (Acts 16:31), through coming to Him (John 6:37), through welcoming Him (Revelation 3:20), and through believing on Him (Acts 16:31), but primarily we are saved because it was His merciful purpose to save us – look up and compare John 15:16; Romans 8:28-29; Romans 9:16; and Ephesians 3:11. The apostle goes still further and says:-
7. GOD’S SALVATION IS ALL OF GRACE
It seems that Paul could not find words or expressions enough to emphasise that the whole of man’s salvation from start to finish is all of God’s grace. God saves us all in the same way. He saves us quite apart from our ‘goodness’ or any supposed merit of our own. Paul gives another death-blow to works:-
8. GOD’S SALVATION IS A GIFT
This salvation “was given us” – look up Romans 6:23. You cannot work for a gift. You can only receive it. It is impossible to buy God’s salvation, for it is a gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). Now notice what Paul says:-
9. THIS SALVATION IS “IN CHRIST JESUS”
Look up and compare Acts 4:12 and 2 Timothy 2:10. How, then, could we earn this salvation? It is altogether in Christ. Notice one last thing Paul gives us:-
10. GOD SAVED US “BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF TIME”
Link up the opening and closing words in our verse like this – “God has saved us…before the beginning of time”. If this is true, how could I contribute anything towards my salvation?